For decades, eggs were considered “villains” as far as food was concerned, as their consumption would allegedly increase blood cholesterol levels, increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease. During the last few years, this view has altered completely, thanks to numerous studies which have demonstrated exactly the opposite: eggs are a nutrient that act as cardio-protectors, anti-inflammatory, antioxidants and even as neural protectors.
Eggs are a source of animal protein and of remarkable nutritional value comparable to human milk. They are rich in vitamins (e.g.: Vitamin D, responsible for the deposition of bone calcium), minerals (e.g.: iron and zinc, important in immune function), protein (albumin, related to muscle mass, cell regeneration and maintenance of immunity), and also antioxidants (vitamin E, choline, biotin and carotenoids) which, besides giving colour to the yolk, act as anti-inflammatory agents.
Choline plays an important role in the transmission of nerve impulses and maintaining memory. During pregnancy, it is essential for the development of the nervous system of the foetus and is also responsible for the formation of the hippocampus area of the brain where the memory is defined.
Choline deficiency is related to an inflammatory process responsible for cardiovascular disease. The consumption of two eggs a day provides 50% of the total requirements of an adult woman.
As far as the additional cholesterol content provided by eggs is concerned, with rare exceptions (diabetes, high LDL) it does not seem to increase blood cholesterol levels in healthy individuals.
According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, “the consumption of up to one egg per day had no impact on risk of developing cardiovascular diseases in both men and women (non-diabetic)”.
For this reason, the American Heart Association amended its recommendations concerning the consumption of eggs: “There is no longer a specific recommendation as to the quantity of eggs that a person can consume per week.”
Eggs are delicious, convenient, healthy and inexpensive.
For the sake of your health, eat eggs!
By Ana Rita Horta
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Ana Rita Horta is a Dietitian at the Hospital Particular do Algarve